16 February 2022 “Spotlight on Gender”

Speech by Parliamentary State Secretary Bärbel Kofler at the Second Global Disability Summit
Oslo / Accra / virtual

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

People with disabilities experience a great deal of suffering: because of ignorance, intolerance and discrimination, because of deficits with regard to assistance, accessibility and inclusion.

Women and girls with disabilities are often at a double disadvantage: because they are female – and because they are living with a disability. In low-income countries, three quarters of all the people with disabilities are female. In these countries, almost one in every four women (22 per cent) is living with one or more than one disability.

The consequences are disastrous: Women and girls with disabilities are between three and ten times more likely to experience violence than those without. Only 33 per cent of all girls with disabilities graduate from school. And it is estimated that, worldwide, only 20 per cent of all women with disabilities are in paid work.

This means that they and their families often remain trapped in a vicious circle of dependence and poverty.

The pandemic has worsened the discrimination faced by women and girls: That is a heavy blow for gender and inclusion. The guiding principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – LNOB – is thus even more important than ever:
We must “leave no one behind”.

All people have a right to a fair chance – to a self-determined life in dignity. Regardless of where they were born, regardless of whether they are born as boys or girls, regardless of whether they are living with or without disabilities.

Gender equality and the inclusion of people with disabilities are key concerns for the German government. That goes both for our development cooperation and for our humanitarian assistance.

We firmly believe that fair, diverse and inclusive societies are stronger and more resilient.
Sustainable development demands an intersectional approach – which means simultaneously looking at different forms of disenfranchisement.

Our goal, therefore, is a feminist foreign and development policy: a policy that specifically aims to remove discriminatory structures and multiple disenfranchisement.

That is what Germany will be campaigning for during its G7 Presidency and beyond.
Women and girls with disabilities must have a voice. Only then will they be able to fully participate in social, economic and political life.

Our actions should be guided by the words of the world-famous Helen Keller, who once said: “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

On behalf of the German government – and with that thought in mind – I thank the Norwegian and Ghanaian governments and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) for organising this 2nd Global Disability Summit.

I hope it can help to overcome multiple disenfranchisement, and empower girls and women with disabilities worldwide.